Brand Spotlight: Keen

Published by Englin's Fine Footwear on 23rd Jun 2017

In the crowded footwear industry, it's tough for a brand to stand out. It takes a unique vision, an unwavering drive, and a strong sense of identity. No shoe brand knows this better than Keen. A fairly young company, they set out in 2003 to make their mark on the footwear world, and that's exactly what they've accomplished. Read on to learn more about this colorful company and the values that help them "live monumental."


"Can a sandal really protect your toes?" It's a simple question, but answering it put Keen (sometimes stylized as KEEN) on the path to international success. Their solution is the Keen Newport: An outdoor-oriented fisherman's sandal with a rubber "toe bumper" that shields you from stubbing and scraping your toes on the trail. This innovative design launched Keen to the footwear big leagues, but it also completely changed the way people think about outdoor footwear. You no longer need a bulky hiking boot in order to stay safe, and with its razor-siped sole and waterproof upper, the Newport is perfect for adventures that take you in or around the water. We'll talk more about the Newport and its evolving features below.


Of course, the Newport was just the beginning. In 2004, Keen experienced a formative moment in their company's history: When the worst tsunami in recorded history devastated the Indian Ocean area, the folks at Keen knew they had to do something to help—something big. Recognizing that relief efforts were of paramount importance, Keen diverted their entire annual advertising budget of $1 million toward disaster relief and other critical causes. At Keen, they believe in putting their money where their mouths are. For them, it's not enough to talk about helping people and the environment if they don't step up and do something about it. This spirit of generosity and service has turned Keen into a champion for sustainability, protecting national parks and monuments, and giving back to their community. Since 2003, they've donated more than $15 million to nonprofit organizations and other causes.

Keen's corporate office was renovated the Keen way, with less than one dumpster of waste (instead of the typical 25-30). The building is located in the historic Pearl District of Portland, Oregon, and some of their shoes are built in a factory on nearby Swan Island. They continually develop new projects that align with their ideals, including Project Build, which partners with volunteer organizations to work for change; the KEEN Kanteen, an in-house café that provides healthy food for the Keen team; and the 2015 "Live Monumental" movement, during which Keen took an RV 10,000 miles across the United States in order to support the creation and protection of national monuments. Keen teams up with organizations like The Conservation Alliance, Leave No Trace, Forest Park Conservancy, American Whitewater, and more, supporting their causes with both donations and volunteer work. Keen encourages all of their footwear fans to explore, enjoy, and defend the outdoors.


In addition to the iconic Newport, Keen offers a variety of outdoor footwear, work shoes, and casual styles. There's a Keen shoe for everyone! Check out some of our favorites below.

Keen Men's and Women's Newport H2

Keen Men's Newport H2 in Black

Keen Newport H2 in Black.

The Keen Newport H2 is the next generation of Keen ingenuity. The original fisherman sandal design and rubber toe bumper remain the same as the original Newport, offering the breeziness of a sandal but with the protection you need for outdoor adventures. The Newport H2 supports your foot with a "metatomical" contoured EVA footbed, and a TPU shank keeps you stable. The sole is razor-siped and features multi-directional lugs to enhance traction on both wet and dry surfaces, so you'll never lose your footing no matter the terrain. Plus, the hydrophobic mesh lining and washable polyester upper make the Newport H2 your go-to for messy, muddy, wet, or unpredictable conditions. Get the perfect fit with the secure, adjustable lacing system.

This rugged outdoor sandal is available in both men's and women's styles, so everyone can enjoy Keen's flagship style. Take the Keen Newport H2 on your next hike, canoe trip, or camping expedition, and experience the Keen effect for yourself!

Keen Women's Whisper

Keen Whisper in Coffee Liqueur/Keen Yellow

Keen Whisper in Coffee Liqueur/Keen Yellow.

The Keen Whisper has a lot in common with the Newport H2, but it's a sleeker, more feminine version with thinner straps and a narrower bumper at the toe. You still get all the features that make the Newport great, like the supportive metatomical footbed and TPU shank. The siped, non-marking rubber outsole keeps you on your feet whether you're navigating treacherous ground or wet, slippery rocks. The Keen Whisper is also breathable and quick-drying, perfect for when you're in or around water. Finally, if foot odor is a concern, the Whisper offers Cleansport NXT™ natural odor control. Smell as fresh as the forest you're exploring! If you're a woman who loves the outdoors, the Keen Whisper is the sandal for you.

Keen Women's Presidio

Keen Women's Presidio in Black/Magnet

Keen Women's Presidio in Black/Magnet.

Even when you're not on the trail, you can rock casual, sporty Keen style with the Keen Presidio for women. This shoe is built to tackle city sidewalks in the urban jungle. A classic lace-up design makes the Presidio perfect for any everyday outfit. The upper is crafted from water-resistant full-grain leather and nubuck, with contrasting textures that take this sneaker's style to the next level. If support is your main concern, the Presidio's removable polyurethane footbed is contoured to provide the comfort and stability you need. A breathable mesh lining helps your foot stay cozy and dry, while Cleansport NXT™ odor control naturally keeps distasteful smells at bay. The Presidio sits on a non-marking rubber outsole, and don't worry—Keen's patented toe bumper is there to keep your toes safe. Choose the comfort and streetwise style of the Keen Presidio, and make the city your playground!

Keen Women's Elsa Sneaker

Keen Women's Elsa Sneaker in Star White

Keen Elsa Sneaker in Star White.

Canvas sneakers are the ultimate casual kicks, and the Elsa Sneaker is Keen's fresh take on this classic style. Paired with jeans or capris, the Keen Elsa Sneaker completes your laid-back look in style. Lace-up closure with aluminum eyelets keeps the Elsa adjustable for a secure, custom fit. The upper and lining are made of durable canvas, which is beloved for its lightweight breathability. Like most Keen shoes, the Elsa Sneaker has a metatomical footbed made from dual-density polyurethane for gentle support. Trust the rubber outsole for traction and protection. There's even a slim rubber guard at the toe, a low-key version of the usual bumper. To top it all off, the Keen Elsa Sneaker is completely vegan, which means that no animal products were used in its construction. This is one lace-up that you can feel great about wearing!

Does Keen seem like your kind of brand? Between their conservation efforts, dedication to service, and top-quality shoes, they're a company whose momentum seems unstoppable and whose fan base grows every year. Explore Keen men's shoes or Keen women's shoes and find the best fit for you!